Spirits: Three

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Her accent was Iberian but he wasn’t sure which country.

The young woman put out her hand in greeting. Jim looked down at the small delicate offering, studying the contrast between the smooth bronzed back and pale, puffy palm. Her thumb faced upwards, the oval nail manicured to perfection and enhanced by a simple clear varnish. The white lunula peeped from behind the cuticle like its lunar namesake, he was enchanted.

She gave it a slight shake, which jolted him out of his trance. Flustered he took the hand in his, careful not to crush it. The soft, pillowy palm was all it promised to be as a tingle ran up his arm.

“Hello. It’s nice to meet you. My name is Margarita.” The accompanying smile kicked down the door of his untidy room of a mind. Her accent was Iberian but he wasn’t sure which country. It was smoother than the clipped tongue of Spain or Portugal.

“Oh like the cocktail?” Someone else said. He looked around the empty station before realising that the words came from his own mouth. Her smile broadened revealing the dimple and its shy partner on her other cheek.

“Yes. I wish I had a Peso for every time someone said that.” Her hand squeezed gently enhancing the sensation in his bewitched limb. Then she let go. Jim glanced down at his own hand as if it had been severed.

“I’m sorry, that was crass of me. Jim’s the name. It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” His head was clearing as her look continued to do the chores in his midden of a brain. “Tell me about the spirits.”

Travellers began to trickle into the station and the far off rumble signalled the next train. Marguerita took the initiative over her paralysed companion. She stretched out her other arm in the direction of the exit.

“Are you in a hurry? Can we grab a coffee? I’ll explain it all to you then. What do you think?” Her soft, subtle approach in the form of three questions galvanised Jim and he turned and led the way. He ushered her onto the escalator and they tucked into the right. It was then that he noticed her clothes. He had been so obsessed with her face, she could have been naked for all he knew. That thought made him shudder with guilt and shame.

She wore a cream down jacket of an unrecognisable brand and faded Wrangler jeans. On her feet were a pair of Mizuno Waveriders in red and white, not brand new but not shabby. Her blouse was white cotton and bore a simple design of colourfully embroidered characters that seemed to be working in the fields of a far of place.

They exited the station into a typical Newcastle downpour. It was dull and oppressive, even compared to the underground station. 

“This way,” he called above the hum of traffic and the noise of the soaked city. They turned left and headed down Northumberland Street. Starbucks was the nearest, so he made for there, glancing back to reassure she was real rather than still following him. They found a table in a quiet corner upstairs and he took her order, leaving his bag. When he returned, she had removed the jacket and adjusted her hair. It spread over her shoulders like the magma from an Icelandic volcano. He almost dropped the tray.

Settled in their corner, hugging their respective brews, the couple began to engage. Marguerita started.

“Have you ever felt that before?” She enquired, grasping her ear lobe as she had on the train.

“I don’t understand. What exactly is it” She wasn’t making sense. Suddenly it hit him as she repeated all four gestures, in order.

“I saw you, at exactly the same time as I felt them myself. Do you know how rare that is?” She’d cleared the remaining rubbish of his thoughts and left precisely nothing. He was struggling to make sense of anything, let alone her complex hypothesis.

Of course he’d experienced that random annoying itch that seemed to travel around his body. Especially when he was trying to sleep or was self conscious, as he had been on the train. As if reading his thoughts, she continued.

“Yes, sleeplessness and stress can bring them on. They’re attracted to, almost thrive on, anxiety.” She said, her face deadly serious. It added another dimension to her attractiveness.

“Them? You mean the spirits? You’re saying that they cause those silly little irritations we suffer?” His mind was filling up now but with her thoughts and feelings. He recalled many occasion when he’d experienced such discomfort. In fact he’d spent a sleepless night in a B&B in Cumbria several years ago. He’d put it down to the bedding.

“A haunted house?” She performed another smash-and-grab raid on his consciousness. “Yes, sometimes they collect together in one place. It rcan be very uncomfortable for the recipient.” She leaned towards him and he studied the small figures on her blouse. They seemed to dance across the soft swell of her breasts. He swore they were moving. He looked up and Marguerita was staring at him. She glanced at the figures and smiled again. A deep blush raged up Jim’s neck like a forest fire. She’d clocked me looking at her chest, he thought.

“It’s fine, they attract a lot of attention, the figures I mean,” she giggled. “The blouse was a gift from a visitor to my father’s museum.” For the third time, Marguerita invaded his innermost thoughts.

“Museum?” Jim stammered, tugging at his collar. The flush had reached his cheeks and burned like a fever.

“Yes. El Museo National de la Muerte, The National Museum of the Dead. You know of it?” Just then, he got her accent. It wasn’t Spanish or Portuguese. It was Mexican. Of course he’d heard of it. A dark shroud settled over his mind.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Fascinating and well written.


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